XenForo Template The Aviator Release Date: Available now (original release date November 6, 2007) Studio: Warner Home Video Year: 2004 Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 2h50m Video: 1080p high definition 16x9 2.40:1 Video (Special Features): Partially 1080i or 1080p high definition, partially 480i or 480p standard definition Audio: Dolby Digital Plus: English 5.1, French 5.1, Spanish 5.1 Audio (Special Features): Stereo and mono Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese Packaging/Materials: Single-disc HD DVD case MSRP: $28.99 The Feature: 4/5 What could be a better embodiment of aviation magnate Howard Hughes than his final creation, the H-4 Hercules (AKA the Spruce Goose)? At over five stories tall and with a wingspan longer than a football field, the aircraft represents everything that Hughes was - daring, uncompromising, and ambitious but also fundamentally flawed, extreme and impractical. As much as the Spruce Goose is a marvel to behold, it is, after all, an aviation museum relic known better as a multilevel failure than an achievement in airplane engineering. Fortunately for Hughes, his final work and personal reputation get sympathetic treatment in Martin Scorsese's well crafted and fascinating biopic "The Aviator." Played by Leonardo DiCaprio, it's hard not to admire and even like Hughes, whether he's making the most expensive [whatever] in history, romancing Katherine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett), or taking on powerful corporate and political leaders. But if there's one complaint it's that in the end there's perhaps too much sympathy for the man, as if all that is notorious and infamous about him should now be disregarded or played down. Still, it's a minor complaint, especially considering the sympathetic bent of biopics in general. If anything - considering the extreme infamy that preceded Hughes before the film was made - it's a good reminder that there's always another side of the story. Video Quality: 4.5/5 "The Aviator" is correctly framed at 2.40:1, is VC-1 encoded and is free of edge halos, dust, dirt and damage. The film was manipulated to mimic the color processes that were available during the depicted time periods. As a result the first third of the film has somewhat surreal colors - reds and blues are eye-poppingly bold and saturated, flesh tones have a coppery patina, and midrange shadows have a blue-green tint. As we move through time colors become more accurate but no less deep and beautiful. The progression is showcased beautifully in the high definition transfer, the color aesthetics rich and stable and absolute black levels satisfyingly inky throughout. Detail is also quite good, from foliage to the art deco architectural features of the interior sets. I also continue to be amazed by the format's ability to render smoke and steam, which have a realistic depth and weight that is missing in standard definition. This is a great looking transfer that, while unconventional in its visuals at times, stays true to the filmmakers' intentions. Audio Quality: 4/5 The Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 track is a nicely balanced and detailed mix. Dialogue, which tends to dominate the film, is clear and intelligible. Surround channel activity is not constant, but when used is powerful and immersive and gives great impact to Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker's trademark, energetic montages. LFE is also used judiciously for flight sequences and, in particular, one horrific crash scene. Special Features: 5/5 All of the special features except the theatrical trailer have been ported over from the standard definition release. The theatrical trailer is also the sole item in 1080i. Commentary by Director Martin Scorsese, Editor Thelma Schoonmaker and Producer Michael Mann: Scorsese takes the lead in the commentary, his enthusiasm and passion for the production and film in general coming through in a track that is informative and engaging. It's also a treat to hear extensive technical details from Schoonmaker, one of the film industry's greatest editors. A Life Without Limits: The Making of the Aviator (11m32s): Much less expansive than the title suggests, the featurette is predominantly about the casting of the film's major figures. Overall it's a standard promotional fluff piece. The Role of Howard Hughes in Aviation History (14m38s): Biographers talk about Hughes's various achievements and contributions to the field, in particular commercial aviation. Modern Marvels: Howard Hughes, A Documentary by the History Channel (43m33s): Cable TV biography program pays particular attention to Hughes's aviation accomplishments and the operations of the Hughes corporation. The Affliction of Howard Hughes: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (14m07s): DiCaprio and Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, an expert on OCD and author of "Brain Lock," explain the reasons behind the disorder and the factors influencing its manifestation in Hughes. OCD patients also share their personal experiences. OCD Panel Discussion with Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese and Howard Hughes' Widow Terry Moore (14m52s): Scorsese and DiCaprio share the extent of their efforts to properly portray OCD. The Visual Effects of the Aviator (12m01s): Visual Effects Supervisor Rob Legato shares the film's different effects methods, from full CGI to miniatures. Constructing the Aviator: The Work of Dante Ferretti (5m59s): A brief look at the lavish sets created by master production designer Ferretti. Costuming the Aviator: The Work of Sandy Powell (3m35s): A brief look at the production's costumes and the progression of looks for Hughes in particular. The Age of Glamour: The Hair and Makeup of the Aviator (8m06s): Chief Make-Up Artist Morag Ross and Department Head Hair Stylist Kathryn Blondell discuss their work in the film. Scoring the Aviator: The Work of Howard Shore (7m13s): Composer Howard Shore explains how he prepares for and creates a score and discusses the various themes and musical styles used in the film. The Wainwright Family - Loudon, Rufus and Martha (5m06s): Loudon Wainwright talks about his and his children's parts as singers at the Coconut Grove, representing music of the 20s, 30s and 40s. An Evening with Leonardo DiCaprio and Alan Alda (28m05s): Alda and DiCaprio talk about how they got involved in the film, their experiences on (and off) set, and what they do to prepare for a part. Deleted Scene: Howard tells Ava about his car accident (1m38s): Extension of the scene when Hughes tries to give Gardner the sapphire necklace, where he speculates on the going rate for a human being. Still Gallery (23m37s): Slideshow with plenty of stills from the set and lovely publicity shots. Theatrical Trailer (1m48s) Aviator Soundtrack Spot (19s): Television spot for the CD soundtrack. Recap and Final Thoughts The Feature: 4/5 Video Quality: 4.5/5 Audio Quality: 4/5 Special Features: 5/5 Overall Score (not an average): 4/5 A fascinating biopic gets a beautiful high definition transfer and a very good audio track. Though the special features package is ported from the standard definition release, it remains a quality set of extras, thorough and entertaining. Recommended.